What is your favorite travel memory?
Every country I have visited left an important memory that connects me to that place. One of my favorite memories is from Rwanda. I was with a group of professionals visiting district hospitals to support the ongoing Rwandan efforts towards improving their infection prevention and control system. The workshop was designed to involve the medical and non-medical staff at the hospital to emphasize the importance of facility-wide prevention of infection.
Some of the local medical staff questioned that approach and did not like the idea of having a workshop together with the cleaning staff. However, they changed their mind when the cleaning staff started to articulate their concerns and discuss their unique perspectives on the running of the facility. The cleaning staff was very happy and proud to be part of that workshop and to be heard. I will never forget how happy I was to see that moment.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
We all have beliefs and ideas about the world around us that are shaped by our surroundings and the environment in which we were raised. As a result, our views and opinions on world events can be limited to a narrow perspective.
Working with GEI has convinced me that travel is an essential element for better understanding and learning about different beliefs and ways of life. I have learned that there is no such a thing as a “good” or “bad” way to do things. There is always a different approach. It is often more helpful to suggest a “better” way to do things without dismissing the other approaches.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
The best story I have heard was from last year. One of the professional delegates, Athena Phillips, who is specialized in trauma treatment, was visiting Rwanda as part of the GEI Women and Leadership program. During her visit, Athena learned more about the tragic history of the Rwandan genocide, and that intrigued her to know more details about how Rwandans deal with trauma. Her initial motivation for the trip to Rwanda was to learn more about the country and the culture, but she knew that she could do more than just “learn”.
After her return, Athena discussed her ideas and approaches for trauma treatment with local stakeholders. They welcomed her ideas and a few months after her first visit, Athena agreed to offer a teaching program called Multicultural Trauma Treatment with GEI in Rwanda. She has her own program now that provides vital tools for mental health treatment.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
That is a difficult question, because all of our programs are important and provide new sets of skills. Since I come from the medical field, I would definitely choose our Helping Babies Breathe® Program.
It is a very important program that, through a sustainable approach, teaches participants and locals how to reduce infant mortality caused by asphyxia in low-resource settings. In this program, international and local professionals work together to learn how to save babies using a very simple and evidence-based technique.
We follow a training-of-trainers model in order to guarantee the continuity of this revolutionary method in every region we visit. The program offers a great opportunity to learn one of the many aspects of global health and connect with local professionals for better dialogue and understanding.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
GEI represents a new approach to sustainable development work around the world. We empower you to become part of the coming change. That was one of the major factors that made a Middle Eastern individual like me, from the humanitarian field, come and work in this field. GEI encourages people to share their knowledge globally and to exchange ideas and experiences in order to develop as a whole and move collectively to a better place in our human history.
I feel proud of our team whenever I remember how every member of this company comes from a different country and culture. Our passion to empower, inspire and leave an impact is the source of energy that pushes us to excel and put all our effort towards successful programs that respect the needs of everyone involved. We are living proof that people can live and work together regardless of their backgrounds.